With your inside sales roles established, the hiring process delivering the right candidates, and your coaching methodology accelerating them to profitability, it’s time to build your sales funnel and measure success. In order to measure and track success, you need to have processes and stages in place where results are tangible and measurable.

Graphic: Inside Sales – Sales Funnel

The sales funnel can be split into distinct stages. These stages are separated to identify the steps required to move prospects to the next stage. The stages of the sales funnel clarify at what point sales development activities finish and sales activities begin:

1) Top of the Sales Funnel – Pre-Pipeline Stages

i. Contacts

This is your entire database of “known” leads. If you are using a marketing automation system like Marketo, you may also have a database on “anonymous” leads. These are visitors to your web properties that your marketing automation system is tracking but have yet to fill out a form or provide contact information through another means.

ii. MQL – Marketing Qualified Lead

A marketing qualified lead is a contact that has demonstrated an interest in your products or services and therefore is displaying some buying signals. Your inside sales team should follow up with these leads quickly with the intention of booking a meeting to discuss their needs and requirements.

iii. Active Dialogue

At this stage, an inside sales rep will develop a rapport with the contact and open up dialogue where information is shared by both parties.  Aim to understand requirements and qualify the prospect for B.A.N.T. The purpose of the active dialogue process is to establish an initial answer to our first question – why do anything? And to lay the foundation for our second question – why do it now? This is where questioning techniques are of vital importance and coaching through listening, evaluating and playing back calls to SR’s pays dividends.

If the SR determines that the prospect is qualified, their goal is to set up a more in-depth meeting with an account executive. During that, or a subsequent meeting, a full demonstration targeted to their specific needs may be given.

iv. Opportunity Qualification – SQL or Sales Qualified Lead

During this final step of pre-pipeline, your sales development reps qualify the prospect further and develop the lead into a full opportunity.  SRs gain further understanding of a prospects’ needs and secure access to the people and the time needed to continue a meaningful dialogue about the solution. At the end of this process we can answer our first 2 questions - why do anything and why do it now?

This stage will involve a member of the account executive team, and it will be fully determined if the opportunity should be moved from pre-pipe to the pipeline.

2) Bottom of the Sales Funnel – Pipeline Stages

i. Discovery – “Flip” or Pipeline

Flips are leads that have “flipped” to become real opportunities and are then added to the sales pipeline. This stage in the funnel is called “discovery.”

The discovery phase is the point at which an opportunity enters the sales pipeline, and we start to address the third question - why do this with us?  The aim here is to dive into the technical aspects of the opportunity and gather as much information about use cases, individual needs and business processes as possible. The more you know about your prospects, the more effective and targeted your proposal will be.

ii. Evaluation

Once you have acquired as much information as possible from the prospect, you need to evaluate their needs against your product specification:

  • Does it do what they are looking for?
  • How might it work in the future?
  • How could you improve on their current systems?
  • What products and features are they likely to need?
  • How does the pricing structure look?

At this stage you want to answer all their key questions and remove any doubt.

iii. Proposal

After the evaluation stage of your sales funnel, you will formulate a proposal. Proposals should always focus on the value that your solution and/or service will deliver to the prospect and demonstrate how your solution will resolve all their key challenges.

iv. Negotiation

The negotiation stage of the sales funnel is where the terms of the agreement are negotiated. This will likely include pricing, timelines, services, support and other terms that must be agreed upon in order to sign a contract.

v. Closed Won

At this stage in the sales funnel, all open issues have been addressed, terms are agreed to and a final contract is signed.


Remember to map what success looks like for you, not all sales processes are as long as a technology purchase, so make sure you are measuring the right things.

Measuring Success – SR Sales Development

It is easier to measure what works well and what needs to improve when you separate the sales funnel into sales development and account executive activities.

In order to maintain the levels of success you require, one-on-one sessions are extremely important. Below are a few key areas we work through with our SRs to improve individual performance:

  • MQLs - are we getting through the volume of MQL’s created quickly enough?
  • Check old opportunities – are we calling back at the right time?
  • Salesforce views – are the call lists and views the most appropriate for the SR?
  • Recycle – are there common reasons for recycling that are more to do with the SR than the quality of the MQL – plan to address?
  • Have the SRs made calls and emails relating to events and campaigns?
  • Targeted emails – is the SR sending out enough emails, are they of the right quality? What is the response rate?

Are you a Salesforce user? If so you have to check out our guide on how integrating your phone system with Salesforce boosts sales performance. Click here...

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